Portimao: Team ORECA-Matmut preview

Team ORECA-Matmut : Win - and learn After the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Team ORECA-Matmut comes back in Le Mans Series with Portimao 1000 kms. In Portugal, Peugeot Sport works driver, Stephane Sarrazin, will back up Nicolas Lapierre and Olivier Panis...

Team ORECA-Matmut : Win - and learn

After the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Team ORECA-Matmut comes back in Le Mans Series with Portimao 1000 kms. In Portugal, Peugeot Sport works driver, Stephane Sarrazin, will back up Nicolas Lapierre and Olivier Panis as he did in the first round of the championship. The three men have but a single objective - victory!

Since the start of the season, the team has continued to show its outright speed with the pole position in the Le Castellet 8 Hours and the fastest lap in the Le Mans 24 Hours, in which Duval/Lapierre/Panis were among the front-runners for most of the race. Now, everybody is focusing their attention on the second part of the Le Mans Series, and the team's programme for the next three months includes Portimao, Budapest and Silverstone. The first challenge comes in the south of the Iberian Peninsula where the Team ORECA-Matmut will be gunning for victory. "After a good performance at Le Mans, we're determined to continue to improve and that means a victory," points out David Floury. In the third round of the championship the main opposition to the no.4 Peugeot will come from the Signature Lola- Aston Martin and the two Lola-Rebellions. "The field is smaller than in the previous races, but we have to remain concentrated on our objectives," continues the team's technical director. "We must win! So far our results are not in keeping with our potential. First of all, we're concentrating on victory in this event, and then we could be aiming for the title. In a way, we're in a kind of handicap race, and we have to make a final sprint to put ourselves in a position to fight for the title."

The Portimao round will take place over two days with qualifying and the race on Saturday. This particularity appeals to Floury: "The weekend will be more condensed, so the overall rhythm will be more intense than usual. It's a good thing as it'll force us to change our habits. Working conditions will be different: when you put yourself on the line, you always learn more and that'll help us for the future."

As he explains, the team will have to learn to cope with these conditions: "It leaves us very little time to steer the right course. What's more the track will be different in qualifying and in the race, and that'll have an impact on tyre choice so we have to get our sums right." While the Team ORECA-Matmut already knows the Portuguese circuit, free practice on Friday will be particularly important. "Racing on this track isn't totally new for us as we've already run the ORECA 01 here," explains Floury. "We'll use the information we collected last year and transfer it to the 908 HDi FAP and draw the right conclusions."

Nicolas Lapierre: "Victory is crucial"

Nico, the aim's clear for the third round of the Le Mans Series, isn't it?

"Yes, it's victory! It's crucial that we finish first. We know we've got what it takes. Now, we have to finish - and finish in first place! We're still chasing after a result. We have to win to reassure ourselves and to show everybody that we can do it, and also to put ourselves back in the running for the title!"

But Portimao won't be the easiest circuit for that, will it?

"It's true that the layout hasn't really been designed with the 908 HDi FAP in mind, as it's much more at home on a fast track. On the other hand, we know that this car's competitive everywhere. One of the main parameters we have to take into account is tyre wear. It'll be hot and we'll have to work hard on this aspect during practice. On the Portimao circuit, traffic is another big problem with a lot of blind corners and bumps. The field, though, is smaller - we'll be our own toughest rivals!"

You've got a bit of an advantage as you set pole here last year...

"It's true. That'll give us a good base to work on even if we haven't got the same car. We raced at Portimao in 2009 and we did a little testing here during the winter, but that was with the ORECA 01, so we've got some data. The track surface is a bit special, but we know it pretty well. The sea's nearby so there's sand on the track. The conditions are such that it's not an ordinary circuit. It's also a bit tight for the prototypes, but it's a beautiful place, and with a night race there'll be a rather special ambience that's always pleasant."

-source: oreca

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About this article
Series European Le Mans
Drivers Olivier Panis , Stéphane Sarrazin , Nicolas Lapierre